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Infants should sunbath for 30 minutes in a week, recommends study

It was a routine practice in India to give infants a sunbath. But now, many kids remain indoors for a major part of their day, owing to a changing lifestyle. A recent study from Delhi has recommended that infants must be given a sunbath for 30 minutes in a week to attain sufficient levels of vitamin D, that is, 20 nanograms per ml. More than 50% of the Indian population is vitamin D deficient, according to some studies, which is a health concern especially for infants. This is because its deficiency leads to rickets, a malformation of leg bones. Insufficient levels of vitamin D also cause lethargy, irritability, and a predisposition to infections. But nearly 90% of the requirement of vitamin D can be met from sunlight. Doctors at the University College of Medicine Sciences, New Delhi enrolled 100 infants and asked their mothers to give them a sunbath every day starting 6 weeks of age. Mothers were asked to record the time, duration, and the body area exposed during sunbath. The doctors reaffirmed that sunbath increases the levels of vitamin D and estimated that exposing infants to 30 minutes of sunlight per week for 16-18 weeks can bring their vitamin D levels to normal. The sunbath has to be given between 10 AM and 3 PM with 40% of the infant’s body surface exposed, which can be achieved when the baby is wearing a diaper. Doctors excluded mothers who were on vitamin D supplements, and adjusted for the infant’s skin color, and season of sunbath as these factors could also potentially influence the findings. The doctors are now planning further studies with a larger group of infants to test this method as a therapy. This finding can benefit over 16 million babies, born each year in India.